India's top five victories under the leadership of Sourav Ganguly
There were three distinct phases in the long and illustrious career that Sourav Ganguly had in international cricket. The first phase began in 1996 with the memorable hundred on debut at Lord’s.
The second phase began when Ganguly took up the captaincy of the Indian team in 2000 after the match-fixing scandal broke out and the third phase of his career began in 2005 after he was replaced as captain by Rahul Dravid.
The first phase was marked by Ganguly’s steep rise in international career as a batsman of great quality. His stroke-play on the offside during that period earned him heavy praise and remains perhaps the most successful period he enjoyed as a batsman. His innings of 183 in the 1999 World Cup at Taunton remains his highest achievement of that period.
The second phase of his career was the most extraordinary as he took reins of the team in a period of great turmoil. The match-fixing scandal had broken out and Sachin Tendulkar had requested to be excused from the responsibility. Ganguly brought a different brand of cricket with him marked by aggression, self-belief and excellent team spirit.
India went all the way to the finals of the 2003 World Cup on the back of an 8-match unbeaten run, but fell at the last hurdle. He led the team to some great achievements overseas as India won Test matches in England and Australia.
The third phase of his career was marked by struggle as he tried to keep his place in the side, often failing to deliver with the bat. There were a number of bitter controversies involving him and Greg Chappell. He made a few comebacks to international cricket, but he signed off, in a sense, on a good note with a hundred at Mohali in 2008 when Australia toured India.
That was his career in a nutshell, but the most memorable contribution that he made to Indian cricket was as a leader and hence the best way to look back at his contribution is to look back at some memorable wins that India achieved under his leadership.
2nd Test, Australia’s tour of India 2001, Eden Gardens, Calcutta
India ended Australia’s glorious record of 16 consecutive Test match victories in their backyard with this astonishing performance. India had lost the first Test match and were on the back-foot after being given a follow on. Two players who would emerge as saviours in Ganguly’s reign a number of times got together to bat out the entire fourth day as India put up a challenging total of 384 runs for Australia.
The fifth day was played on a dusty and turning wicket, the kind that Ganguly liked to have at his home ground at Eden Gardens. He led his troops to a massive victory with Ganguly’s prodigy Harbhajan Singh ripping through the stellar Australian batting line-up with a six-wicket haul. India completed the Test series win with yet another victory at Chennai.